Getting your kids to do something you know they should do but don’t want to do is hard. On the one hand you don’t want to be the kind of parent that says, “Because I said so!” (although there are times that’s necessary). On the other hand you can’t put your child in the driver seat of every decision. So what do you do when you want your kids to go to church but they don’t want to? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Identify the problem
Talk with your child one-on-one and find out why he doesn’t want to go to church. Some of the most common reasons are:
- The service is boring.
- They don’t have any friends there (yet).
- Someone’s picking on them.
- They’re trying to control mom and dad.
Having an open and honest talk about what’s REALLY going on will help you know how to help him.
2. Brainstorm positive solutions together
If it’s a fun factor issue talk to him about ways he can have more fun (usually getting more involved is the answer). If it’s a bully issue talk about when walking away is enough vs when it’s time to tell a leader. If it’s a friend thing help him identify who some good kids he’d like to be friends with are and how to connect with them.
If you feel he’s trying to be controlling (which all kids like to do sometimes) help him see why going to church is the best thing for him (i.e. great place to make friends, learn how to overcome problems, and have fun). The key here is to help him own the solution.
3. Let his leader know privately
Share with your child’s leader what’s been going on, what you’d like to do about it, and ask for their help and advice. Your child’s leaders are there to help you and your family. I always recommend doing this step privately so the child doesn’t feel embarrassed about his mom or dad talking about him with another grown-up.
4. Follow-up at home during the week
After church talk to your child about what he liked and learned that day. Get him to dig deep and find something positive about the experience. Encourage him to do the activity pages he got at church during the week. Talk to him about it each night. This will help him to feel more connected to God and the church when he’s not at your church’s campus.
These days the line between being a controlling parent and a caring one is blurry. There are so many different books on parenting you could spend your whole life just reading them. The best way to help your kids is figure out the root issue, own a positive solution, enlist the help of other trustworthy adults, and follow-up at home day-to-day. This will help prepare them to make good choices now and as an adult.